New Regional Fire Training Academy Opens
A new Massachusetts Department of Fire Services campus was dedicated today in western Massachusetts. The state-of-the-art facility means fire department recruits will not have to travel for hours or stay away from home for days to receive training.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, State Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan joined with other state and local officials along with dozens of fire chiefs from across the state to dedicate the new $13.4 million complex in Springfield.
Polito pledged the Baker Administration would fund and support the state’s fire services.
"We need to make sure our first responders have the training and equipment they need to do their job well," she said.
The new center will provide not only training, but also investigative and other services for fire departments from throughout western Massachusetts at no cost to the local departments.
The facility was built on the site of the former Springfield Fire Training Center that the state bought from the city for $2 million. The campus is on six acres and it includes a three-story live fire training prop burn building, a five-story training tower, and 18,000 square foot administration and classroom building.
Coan said the job of firefighting is extremely demanding and the training requirements are constantly increasing.
"The post 9-11 era really did change the fire service. Today it is much more than structural firefighting. Firefighters are called upon to do many many things," said Coan.
Until the Springfield campus opened last month, firefighters had to travel to a fire services training center in Stow – about a three-hour round trip from Springfield.
Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor, who is the current president of the Western Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association, said the Springfield campus will save the local departments money and time.
" Sending recruits to Stow we have to find a local fire station that is willing to put them up and reimburse them for three meals a day. Here we only pay for one meal a day and at night they are home with their families, " said Mottor.
Rosenberg described the dedication as a “happy day” and said the new facility is an example of cooperation and persistence paying off.
" When I started this project I was a freshman State Representative," he said. " This project had many great ideas and great plans that did not come to fruition. Finally, the pieces fell into place."
The Springfield Fire Department will use the new campus for training under a 20-year agreement with the state.
In addition to serving as a training center for firefighters, the campus provides office space for western Massachusetts staff of the State Police bomb squad, arson investigation unit, and the state Public Safety Code Compliance and Enforcement Unit.